21 August 2002
Parliament Seating Row A Nonsense
"I am disappointed that today's meeting did not reach a resolution on the seating arrangements in Parliament," says National MP and Shadow Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee.
"However, National is strongly of the view that there are far more important issues for MPs to be concentrating on rather than scrapping about trivial matters such who sits where in the House."
Mr Brownlee says it says more about the egos and self-importance of minor party leaders when they rate their personal requirements above 150 years of parliamentary tradition in New Zealand.
"We have a safe democracy in this country and it works because we have a Government and an official Opposition.
"It defies believe that the Greens and NZ First, which both campaigned as possible coalition partners for Labour now claim to be opposition parties. It is even more farcical, considering the Greens will have an arrangement to support Labour in the House.
"By every precedent - and backed by standing orders - National is the official Opposition."
Mr Brownlee says National will agree by the determination of seating arrangements by the new Speaker, which is due to be announced around 5 pm on Monday.
"However, we would be surprised if the likely Speaker would move to weaken the concept of official opposition by changing seating arrangements. Especially given that he is so steeped in the strength and tradition of our democratically safe parliamentary process," Mr Brownlee added.